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I'll let Robert respond according to his view, but I would say the answers to question #1 go in the direction Earl Doherty and Richard Carriers work and how things like the Ascension of Isaiah reveal these celestial oriented Gnostic roots, and how that applies to early christian beliefs specifically. There's good back ground info in all of that. Also their work on applying this line of thinking to the authentic Pauline Epistles and how those reflect Gnostic thought, Paul being the first of the NT writings.

 

And how the NT writers were influenced by Philo of Alexandria with his "logos" concepts which are Platonic in orientation and which also find their way right into the introduction of John, for instance - claiming that Jesus is the "logos." Those are just a few areas in which the Platonic oriented Gnostic connections to the NT writing can be outlined. Not to mention, of course, the fact that the epistles don't appear into history until after the Gnostic Marcion claims to have found them laying around in Antioch and makes them known, and then adds his own Gospel to the collection during the early 2nd century. The gospels then begin appearing into the historical record behind all of the above becoming spoken of and acknowledged in the mid to late 2nd century. The writings all anonymous and their true origins completely unknown. 

 

Plato > Gnosticism > Marcion > Pauline Epistles appear into the historical record > Gospels appear into the historical record > Orthodoxy eventually takes control of the religious writings and canonizes what they prefer to canonize > The world of today > Robert's "Final Reformation."  

 

I was thinking on this today at work. One name for Robert's idea could be: 

 

The Final Reformed Church of Christ. 

 

This would represent the final place that any one could possibly take christianity without loosing christianity altogether. Reforming it to acknowledge it's uncertain roots, back ground in mystical language and belief, usage of allegorical language, and meaning in philosophical suggestions about the relationship between eternity and time, the finite and the infinite. There's really no other place to go with it once stripping it down bare to these essential aspects that don't relay on literal interpretation, historicity, or any of the things which completely unravel and fall apart for christians. 

 

 

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On 10/8/2017 at 4:01 PM, Robert_Tulip said:

Christianity Without Jesus

As a regular churchgoer, I face a difficulty.  My problem is that I see the Gospel message “the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) as a crucial idea uniting ethics and epistemology, but my scholarly study has convinced me that the character of Jesus of Nazareth is entirely fictional, a Platonic Gnostic invention.  So I am interested in the problem of how Christianity can engage in a conversation about this problem, whether faith can reform so that Christianity can survive and prosper without Jesus.

The way I reconcile the conflict between the Gospel focus on truth and the apparent lack of truth in the Gospels includes the following observations, on which I would welcome discussion.

Gospels as Noble Lie:  Plato in The Republic said that philosopher kings could rule the world by presenting the masses with fictional stories dressed up as fact, specifically drawing from the old myth of the descent from a Golden Age into an Iron Age.  My hypothesis is that Platonic philosophers after Alexander's conquests first constructed the myth of Serapis, the Greco-Egyptian synthesis of Zeus and Osiris, and then added Jewish prophecy and Babylonian cosmology into the Serapis myth to invent Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Mark, with midrash from Homer’s epics.  This process occurred in secret, within Gnostic Mystery Societies, in keeping with Plato’s Noble Lie agenda, and was then completely suppressed as heresy by literalist orthodoxy.  So we have an origin of Christianity in high philosophy, as a new theory of history completely at odds with general opinion.

The Gospels and Homer: Imitations of Greek Epic in Mark and Luke-Acts (The New Testament and Greek Literature) by Dennis R. MacDonald, a scholarly book published in 2014, explains extensive similarities which cohere with my Platonic Gnostic hypothesis.

The Platonic Logos theory coheres with the Christian idea of the pre-existent Christ, of Jesus as cosmic reason incarnating in the world.  The Gospels then present what is called an Adoptionist Christology in Saint Mark, with the idea that Jesus was adopted by God at his baptism by John, as a popular simplification of this Logos theory.  The logos comes back into the picture in John’s Prologue and Colossians to provide the basis for trinitarian theology.  

I see the Christology of Christ as Cosmic Reason as compelling, simple and elegant, and as sufficient basis for a scientific approach to faith, with the entire Nazareth story falling under what Jesus explains at Mark 4:34 as popular parable.

It is well worth analysing this ‘cosmic reason’ against Plato’s ideas, for example his analogy of the sun.  Socrates says the "child of goodness" is the sun, proposing that just as the sun illuminates, bestowing the ability to see and be seen, so the idea of goodness illumines the intelligible with truth. There are many points at which Jesus Christ serves as an analogy for the sun, for example in John’s idea that Jesus is the source of light and life, and in the whole passion story of dying and rising as metaphor for the solar cycles of the day and the year.

If Christianity originated in Platonism in this way, then the entire traditional framework of the growth of the early church from Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as fiction.  It means the actual relationship between Gnostic and Orthodox thought was the reverse of the popular belief, because the original ideas were Gnostic, grounded in Greek philosophy, and orthodoxy only emerged as a corrupted political literal degeneration of a forgotten high Gnostic philosophy. 

“Nazareth” did not exist until well after the time of Pilate, as far as reliable archaeology can show (See the work of Rene Salm on this).  Drawing from the observation that Jesus was invented, my view is the most plausible basis of Nazareth is as political cover for the Nazarene and Nazirite sects in Israel who were under pressure from Rome for sedition.  Saying Nazarene meant “from Nazareth” provided an effective deflection.

Analysing the pervasive belief in Jesus of Nazareth can usefully use Calvin’s concept of Total Depravity.  If Jesus was in fact a fictional invention, then the general belief that he was a real person is a primary example of the total depravity of human psychology, the susceptibility of popular thought to comforting delusional memes, the willingness to believe myths, and the Boxer Syndrome from Paul Simon’s great song, that ‘a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.’

Evolution often proceeds when something has provided a framework for growth and is then discarded.  It seems that orthodox Christianity used Gnostic Platonic ideas about Jesus in this way.  My view is that the evolution of Christianity to meet contemporary needs requires open discussion about the possibility that the Gospels are entirely fictional, as a basis for the new reformation of Christian faith to cohere with reason.  This hypothesis that Jesus was invented labours under heavy social taboos and is never openly discussed in mainstream media, and yet it provides the most compelling and elegant scientific hypothesis of the truth of Christian origins.

Robert Tulip

9 October 2017

Hmm, I find the conclusion reached by this post troubling.  Christianity certainly evolved, but it also evolved after its origin with the Biblical writings and the proto-orthodox versus the Gnostics.  Christian writers like Origen had to come along and make it more respectable in high Grecco-Roman culture, which is what needed to happen in order for the religion to take hold in the ruling classes.  Constantine's false faith in the Cross in that gave him victory, would be the precipitous act which would send Christianity cascading down the annals of history to the present.  Why base your life on the whims of a book whose authors are ignorant largely of the psychological realities we face today, beyond a particular ancient wisdom which can be found in nearly all ancient religions.  But I can read Confucius or the Pali Canon without becoming a Confucian or Buddhist, in fact I practice Yoga and meditation daily but am utterly a naturalist with no religious affiliation.  Becoming a Christian Atheist, is just adopting another myth of falsehood as some kind of pragmatic framework, which actually constrains your ideas to the assumptions inherent in that worldview.  Which is why any clinging to Christianity, usually makes a person socially conservative, and based upon the mythological elements of the religion who is to say these assumptions are valid in 2017 with how the world has changed?  It is totally possible to take practices, and ethical standards and totally separate them from their respective religion and to incorporate in your day to day habits, through established routines and practices.  

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16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Hmm, I find the conclusion reached by this post troubling. 

Thanks for your thoughts True Scotsman.  The problem you raise is whether the world would be better off abandoning religion completely. My view is that the evolution of culture can best occur by adapting Christian traditions to jettison their obsolete miraculous literal elements and keep the rational scientific ethical content, like separating the wheat and tares at harvest time.  Naturally whether such winnowing is possible is a highly contestable idea.

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Christianity certainly evolved, but it also evolved after its origin with the Biblical writings and the proto-orthodox versus the Gnostics.  Christian writers like Origen had to come along and make it more respectable in high Grecco-Roman culture, which is what needed to happen in order for the religion to take hold in the ruling classes. 

Although your analysis here might seem plausible from evidence, I dispute it.  My view is that Platonic philosophy was far more intimately involved in the construction of Christianity than is commonly recognised.  The links to Greek culture are already pervasive in John’s Logos theology in the Gospels, so reading that link as a later reform through Fathers such as Origen seems wrong.  What was needed to make Christianity respectable for the empire was that its political threat had to be neutered, so that Jesus could serve as a symbol for unity and stability and loyalty, enabling the Christendom alliance of throne and altar.  That meant that the use of the Gospels as the entry point to a secret mystery society, teaching ‘parables for the public and wisdom for the initiates’, had to be suppressed.  And the simple device to achieve that was, as seen in documents such as the Edict of Thessalonica, to make advocacy and possession of such secret mysteries a capital crime, so that only the safe literal historical Jesus gospel story could be promulgated, with all its revolutionary messianism safely deferred to the next world.

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Constantine's false faith in the Cross in that gave him victory, would be the precipitous act which would send Christianity cascading down the annals of history to the present. 

The Roman Emperor Constantine transformed Christianity from a force for sedition into a bulwark of stability, based on dogmatic fantasy.  My reading of the X in the sky, with its ‘in my name conquer’ myth from the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, is that this X was the same as explained by Plato more than six centuries earlier in Timaeus.  The intersection between the great circles of the celestial equator and the path of the sun, slowly but steadily moving back through the stars, marks the shifts of ages and the structure of time.  Constantine, via Eusebius, was recognising that a new astronomical age had dawned, and claiming divine right to rule based on a mandate of heaven, seen in the physical observation of the sky.  The Chi-Rho cross, allegedly painted on the victor’s shields, in my view symbolises the movement of the equinox into the constellation of Pisces that occurred in 21 AD, as the sign of Christ.  But the violent suppression of astronomy meant this knowledge of the source of the symbol was lost.

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Why base your life on the whims of a book whose authors are ignorant largely of the psychological realities we face today, beyond a particular ancient wisdom which can be found in nearly all ancient religions.

The New Testament has distinctive valid ethical and epistemic teachings that give Christianity a unique potential as a religious framework able to reform to reconcile with scientific knowledge. The key ethical teaching, that the last will be first in the kingdom of God, can be repurposed as a purely ecological vision, seeing the defence of the defenceless as a core function of state power.  My view is that the intellectual framework of Christian origins has largely been lost and has to be reconstructed, eliminating any belief in a historical Jesus and recognising the central role of the astronomy of precession of the equinox in construction of the Christ Myth.  That is an approach based on evidence, rejecting any acceptance of traditional authoritarian whimsy.

 

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

But I can read Confucius or the Pali Canon without becoming a Confucian or Buddhist, in fact I practice Yoga and meditation daily but am utterly a naturalist with no religious affiliation.

There is a strong argument that pure Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religious affiliation in the denominational dogmatic manner of Christendom.  In fact, it seems likely that the Christian monastic tradition was imported from Ashoka’s Buddhist India, so Christianity has essential Buddhist roots in its original high Gnostic philosophy. These origins were uprooted as Christianity was corrupted by politics. I too am utterly a naturalist, but the question of natural religion is how we can connect our mundane earthly reality with a transcendent vision, and do so in a way that coheres with science. 

 

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Becoming a Christian Atheist, is just adopting another myth of falsehood as some kind of pragmatic framework, which actually constrains your ideas to the assumptions inherent in that worldview.

The terms Christian and Atheist both hold extensive historical and cultural baggage.  Christian connotes acceptance of traditional dogma, while Atheist links to an arrogant secular myth that sees no meaning outside science.  And yet I argue that both these terms can be repurposed as essential to a systematic religious vision that is entirely compatible with the modern scientific worldview.  This is a complex shift of mindset, and my argument is that it requires a shaking of the foundations, seeing our actual planetary structure of time as the entire framework of meaning for human life, and analysing mythologies against that empirical rational heuristic.  I see that as a method best able to challenge all preconceived assumptions.

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

Which is why any clinging to Christianity, usually makes a person socially conservative, and based upon the mythological elements of the religion who is to say these assumptions are valid in 2017 with how the world has changed?

Perhaps some elements of social conservatism have value?  The framework of evolution involves building upon precedent, changing what already exists into something new and better able to adapt to circumstance.  Analysing the mythological elements of Christian religion should lead to the conclusion that the entire meaning of the Jesus story is symbolic, that any claims of supernatural entities are pure myth, whose real original intent was to popularise aspects of secret Gnostic wisdom.  My view is that secret tradition links directly to the rational visions of Greek philosophy, integrated with stories from surrounding cultures whose age alone gives them enduring cultural value, and all understood against the objective universal reality of astronomical observation.    

 

16 hours ago, TrueScotsman said:

It is totally possible to take practices, and ethical standards and totally separate them from their respective religion and to incorporate in your day to day habits, through established routines and practices.  

Perhaps some people have that heroic individual power, True Scotsman, but shared activity is often essential to reinforce and spread good values and practices.  As such, I believe that reform of Christian worship, ritual and prayer can be extremely helpful in encouraging and assisting people to establish routines and practices that will be of personal and social benefit.  Literalism has so severely traumatised and degraded Christian belief that such a transformation of the nature of faith is a hard ask.  I am calling for a dialogue about how a hypothetical astronomical philosophy could have given rise to the extant facts of Christianity, as a far more plausible account than any attempt to salvage the creaking wreck of Christ historicism with its anomalies, absurdities and moral failings.  And yet, in the spirit of the wheat and tares, it should be possible to distinguish between the valuable and the harmful, with the valuable including social practices that provide psychological comfort and shared learning.

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15 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Perhaps some people have that heroic individual power, True Scotsman, but shared activity is often essential to reinforce and spread good values and practices.  As such, I believe that reform of Christian worship, ritual and prayer can be extremely helpful in encouraging and assisting people to establish routines and practices that will be of personal and social benefit.

 

How do you propose an atheistic approach to prayer? 

 

When I've attended funerals in recent years (the only times I've set foot churches in the last 25 years) prayer has got to be the most annoying aspects of the visit. People groveling around asking an imaginary being for certain things, is a bit much. Especially knowing that it's nothing more than one person (some preacher, usually an egoic self important figure) standing in front of everyone saying things that he wants everyone else to hear - more so than speaking to a god.  Although the suggestion is that it's aimed up at a supernatural deity in the sky. 

 

In the past, especially concerning christian origins, Gnostic or otherwise, they clearly believed that they were praying to a literal god. So to eliminate that dynamic would be entire new, and very un-christian for all intensive purposes. 

 

How would it work, then? 

 

And what would make it christian at all? 

 

And further more, why is there any pressing need to maintain prayer at all? 

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On 10/10/2017 at 12:34 AM, Citsonga said:

I'm curious why you think it's important to retain Christianity even without Jesus.

Going back to this earlier comment, I see there are some excellent questions like this one that people have raised that I have not yet responded to directly.  I will try to keep working through. 

There are bas

ic philosophical, cultural and psychological factors in the nature of religion that are well worth discussing in terms of why it is important to retain Christianity.  At the superficial level, religion is a set of practices involved in belief in a supernatural deity.  Such beliefs are not compatible with scientific method and lack intellectual rigour and long term social justification, but they have a long half-life among the ignorant so will inevitably endure for a long time as comforting popular myths. 

If we look at the nature of religion more deeply, its psychological basis rests partly in a desire to connect our mundane lives with a deeper sense of enduring truth, a stable order providing meaning and purpose.  That enduring truth has been imagined in religion in the myths of a higher power, an eternal mind providing creative direction and blessing for human existence, a personal intentional God who cares for humanity. 

Instead of seeing that principle of order in the universe as God, we can view it through a scientific prism.  Then the question of how we can connect to such a universal order shifts from receiving a supernatural revelation from a personal God to how we construct our worldview.  Psychological analysis of projection comes into play, seeing the myth of God as a projection of human attributes onto nature,  When we convert our idealised visions into belief in God as a real personal entity, the resulting mythology provides comfort without logic. 

The belief that religion connects us to God links to the etymology of the word religion, which means rebinding, the same ‘lig’ root as ligaments that connect our bones like in Ezekiel’s story of the dry bones.  I am interested in how this theme of connection to a shared vision of truth can supply an enduring value for religion.  The problem is that a shared vision today means a story acceptable to the secular world, and that in turn means that with the Bible, its literal content should be seen as entirely symbolic. The connection to God through faith is imaginary, not real, but despite this status, faith still has great potential to affect social values.

The symbolism in Christianity is especially powerful in connecting humanity to an ultimate reality.  Jesus Christ, imagined in logos theology as the enduring stable rationality of reality, puts attributes that earlier religion saw in the sun into human form, seeing Jesus as the source of light, life, stability, power, glory, grace, etc, just like the sun.  The sun does in fact connect humanity to the universe through its physical size, containing 99.8% of our solar system’s mass, but such quantitative measures do not help us much with the more metaphysical ideas in religion like glory and grace.  Humpty Dumpty’s comment to Alice about glory offers a cautionary warning to the effort to explain what such vague ideas might mean. 

It appears that Christianity evolved through unconscious displacement of previous mythological reverence for the sun onto a fictional person, Jesus Christ.  We can see this solar displacement throughout the Christian faith, in the solar dates of Easter and Christmas as the seasons of the birth of life and light, in the glorious radiant descriptions of Jesus in stories such as the transfiguration, and in the overall solar structure of time in Christian eschatology, with the Biblical concepts of the beginning and end of the age entirely grounded in the astronomy of precession of the equinox, encoding the astronomical observation that the sun enters spring through the constellation of Pisces over the Christian millennia.  

So why should we retain Christianity without Jesus? 

First, Jesus has a real problem.  He was invented, so to pretend he was real is untrue, and therefore contrary to the Christian ethic of truth.  Christianity cannot sustain the combination of commitment to truth and belief in a historical Jesus without overt hypocrisy. 

Second, despite this problem of invention, the reasons for the invention of Jesus were good and remain important. Christology, the study of Christ, serves to imagine a way that humanity can connect to an ultimate eternal truth about our place in the universe, recognising the value of serious dialogue about the meaning of life. 

Third, as the world now moves physically out of the Age of Pisces and into the Age of Aquarius, a complete revision of old religious ideas is needed, aiming to transform obsolete ideas into forms that are relevant for today. A Christianity with the dross of historical falsehood refined away provides a more authentic approach located within an empirical cosmology.

Fourth, the dominant literal version of Christianity is quite different from the intentions of the Platonic Gnostics who invented Jesus, who could see that the degraded condition of human culture meant an age of imagination, ie the fantasy vision of the church, would need to exist for a long time before the key Gospel values of love, forgiveness, repentance and grace could become a basis for social organisation. 

Fifth, evolution proceeds by adapting what already exists, so reforming Christianity to cohere with scientific knowledge, recognising all its stories as symbolic rather than literal, offers potential to achieve a coherent moral vision that could repurpose large stagnant institutions. 

Sixth, the scale of problems facing the world, global warming, conflict, extinction, confusion, insanity, indicate that a scientific eschatology grounded in astronomical knowledge rather than mythological fantasy could make a productive contribution to human survival and flourishing. 

Seventh, a natural reading of the Bible, seeing the fantasy elements of church belief as evidence of an actual historical fall from grace into corruption, offers a paradigm shift with potential to help uncork the extensive suppressed unconscious and subconscious meaning within Christian faith, revealing the extent to which an accurate natural vision is encoded in fugitive traces in the Bible, and how this natural vision offers potential to develop a coherent integrated systematic philosophy that respects both modern knowledge and the valid content of religion.

On 10/10/2017 at 12:34 AM, Citsonga said:

People can be and often are decent and moral without religion.

Yes, true, and further to that, religion is often a cause of indecent and immoral actions, largely due to its political positioning of untrue myths to block efforts to base life on the values of evidence and logic.  For religion to be redeemed would require an ability for supporters of religion to look at ethical questions strategically, partly in terms of understanding sustainable incentives and motives for moral action, but also in rejecting the idea that faith involves assent to claims that lack evidence and logic. 

I don’t think such reform of Christianity is possible while religious institutions remain unconditionally wedded to defence of propositions that a reasonable scepticism can doubt, such as the existence of Jesus. That is blind faith.  My view is that the only way Christian religion can shift from being a net source of harm to a source of benefit is to acquire a humility about the corruption surrounding its origins, and be reformed to cohere with evidence and reason, a shift which would then unlock significant moral power within the Gospel message.  Paul has a nice line in Romans 12:2, “be not conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind.” If the newness of our mind indicates that the literal Gospel is ridiculous as history, then failure to challenge such nonsense involves just the conformism to the world that Paul condemns.

On 10/10/2017 at 12:34 AM, Citsonga said:

Although I have no qualms with someone wanting to reshape the religion with a scholarly scalpel, it seems unnecessary to me.

The problems of myth within Christianity have something of a tectonic quality, with the conflict between faith and reason like vast subterranean continental plates slowly grinding against each other, steadily building tension until they reach an earth-quaking breaking point. The management of such cultural drifts as the likely aftermath of Christendom has high potential both for damage and for opportunity to create something new and valuable. A scholarly scalpel could be the instrument needed to midwife this seismic shift in perceptions of the meaning of religion, like the straw that broke the camel’s back, offering a path of respect for the heritage of faith while opening dialogue about how it came to be that faith has promoted impudent delusion on such a grand scale.

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On 10/21/2017 at 5:11 AM, Robert_Tulip said:

Thanks for your thoughts True Scotsman.  The problem you raise is whether the world would be better off abandoning religion completely. My view is that the evolution of culture can best occur by adapting Christian traditions to jettison their obsolete miraculous literal elements and keep the rational scientific ethical content, like separating the wheat and tares at harvest time.  Naturally whether such winnowing is possible is a highly contestable idea.

This seems to fail to learn the most important lesson that we have learned about culture, that they emerge, entirely out of a framework of human beings and the civilizations that existed at the time.  Which means, they are fictions, and not just mythologies.  None of it is real, and I think for someone in the 21st Century you have to tread carefully when you have this heritage of fiction-making.  It seems the best way forward isn't just to adjust previous fictions, but to create new ones which are not dependent on the authority of traditional elements of society.  

 

Quote

Although your analysis here might seem plausible from evidence, I dispute it.  My view is that Platonic philosophy was far more intimately involved in the construction of Christianity than is commonly recognised.  The links to Greek culture are already pervasive in John’s Logos theology in the Gospels, so reading that link as a later reform through Fathers such as Origen seems wrong.  What was needed to make Christianity respectable for the empire was that its political threat had to be neutered, so that Jesus could serve as a symbol for unity and stability and loyalty, enabling the Christendom alliance of throne and altar.  That meant that the use of the Gospels as the entry point to a secret mystery society, teaching ‘parables for the public and wisdom for the initiates’, had to be suppressed.  And the simple device to achieve that was, as seen in documents such as the Edict of Thessalonica, to make advocacy and possession of such secret mysteries a capital crime, so that only the safe literal historical Jesus gospel story could be promulgated, with all its revolutionary messianism safely deferred to the next world.

The Gospel of John is much later than the earlier gospels, which certainly had the main narrative about how Jesus became King, with each demonstrating Jesus' true messianic nature in their distinct ways.  I also don't think that "John's" use of the term Logos implies that the rest of the theology is based on Platonic thought, this author like Paul was surely aware of Platonic and Hellenistic thought, which had entered Second Temple Judaism through the Alexandrian Jews and their translation of the Septuagint (as well as the Hellenistic occupation of Palestine for centuries).  There are also prophecies given in these earlier gospels about the coming of Christ to fully setup his heavenly kingdom, but that shifted with later texts like the gospel of John to be more in the future age.  It isn't just the introduction of Platonism that shifted the theology of John and some of the later writings of the New Testament, it was the reinterpretation of critical prophecies as Christianity has and will always be a sort of apocalyptic cult that believes the end of the world is nigh.  There are plenty of resources within Second Temple Judaism, which these Jews in diaspora were well acquainted with that produced these early writings which involved a major awareness of the Tanakh but also familiarity with the geography of Israel.   

 

Certainly Jews built their myths on fellow competing tribal religions, especially in the wake of the Babylonian captivity where most of their texts were created.  None of the Christians could write in the high Platonic Greek until Origen, even the gospels were looked down upon for their Koine Greek.  True Platonists would never have used that form of Greek, especially such that had been so related to the usage of words to the Jewish Septuagint.  

 

Quote

The Roman Emperor Constantine transformed Christianity from a force for sedition into a bulwark of stability, based on dogmatic fantasy.  My reading of the X in the sky, with its ‘in my name conquer’ myth from the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD, is that this X was the same as explained by Plato more than six centuries earlier in Timaeus.  The intersection between the great circles of the celestial equator and the path of the sun, slowly but steadily moving back through the stars, marks the shifts of ages and the structure of time.  Constantine, via Eusebius, was recognising that a new astronomical age had dawned, and claiming divine right to rule based on a mandate of heaven, seen in the physical observation of the sky.  The Chi-Rho cross, allegedly painted on the victor’s shields, in my view symbolises the movement of the equinox into the constellation of Pisces that occurred in 21 AD, as the sign of Christ.  But the violent suppression of astronomy meant this knowledge of the source of the symbol was lost.

My reading of it, indicates making any lofty claims on the basis of what happened here, beyond Christianity taking a major leap forward is REALLY pushing it.  A naturalism that integrates as much theology, Platonic philosophy and astronomy as this, is pretty troubling IMO.  

 

Quote

The New Testament has distinctive valid ethical and epistemic teachings that give Christianity a unique potential as a religious framework able to reform to reconcile with scientific knowledge. The key ethical teaching, that the last will be first in the kingdom of God, can be repurposed as a purely ecological vision, seeing the defence of the defenceless as a core function of state power.  My view is that the intellectual framework of Christian origins has largely been lost and has to be reconstructed, eliminating any belief in a historical Jesus and recognising the central role of the astronomy of precession of the equinox in construction of the Christ Myth.  That is an approach based on evidence, rejecting any acceptance of traditional authoritarian whimsy.

Except it has no vision for economics, and we are stuck with the Pauline doctrine of the eternality of the poor and an apolitical social conservatism which had no preconception for the utility of the nation state or economics for improving quality of life for the weakest of all.  I would also challenge your conception of the New Testament texts being more based on some kind of Platonic astronomy versus Second Temple Judaism, and Messianic and apocalyptic writings.  Traditional authorities do exist too, and they are the ones who shepherd the vast majority of Christians in the world, and empowering this religion also empowers their established power which has been warring against the State since the dawn of the Enlightenment.  

 

Quote

There is a strong argument that pure Buddhism is a philosophy and not a religious affiliation in the denominational dogmatic manner of Christendom.  In fact, it seems likely that the Christian monastic tradition was imported from Ashoka’s Buddhist India, so Christianity has essential Buddhist roots in its original high Gnostic philosophy. These origins were uprooted as Christianity was corrupted by politics. I too am utterly a naturalist, but the question of natural religion is how we can connect our mundane earthly reality with a transcendent vision, and do so in a way that coheres with science. 

I disagree that our reality is mundane without these illusory transcendental visions, reality is far more interesting to me than fiction.  Especially the more and more of it, that we behold through the utility of science.

 

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The terms Christian and Atheist both hold extensive historical and cultural baggage. 

Being human does that, or at least for most every human born after the cognitive revolution 70,000 years ago.  Atheism is a response to a time when Theism was near universal, but whose worldview was being overridden by a more mechanistic and reductionistic atheism.  What it seems to be now, is that we have a much more complex naturalism with various scales of material organization which create new and novel functions in the world.  

 

Quote

 Christian connotes acceptance of traditional dogma, while Atheist links to an arrogant secular myth that sees no meaning outside science. 

Meaning is largely found in the parochial, one's family or village, or through some meaning system given to a person by the family or community.  Excepting preconceived cultural authority, is just giving up your personal ability to sort out for yourself these questions, and then perhaps sets yourself up for another shake up when those foundations crumble.  Better to go with pragmatism, rather than fall back on religion and its limited scope for what is human.  Keep what is beneficial and confirmed by psychology and the other sciences and dispense with the rest.  

 

Quote

And yet I argue that both these terms can be repurposed as essential to a systematic religious vision that is entirely compatible with the modern scientific worldview.  This is a complex shift of mindset, and my argument is that it requires a shaking of the foundations, seeing our actual planetary structure of time as the entire framework of meaning for human life, and analysing mythologies against that empirical rational heuristic.  I see that as a method best able to challenge all preconceived assumptions.

Except when one has to remember that none of it is actually true, in an objective sense.  We are fertilizer as it concerns the earth, here for a minute and gone the next, meaning and purpose is only something which creatures such as we are have to deal with.  And we have used it as a justification for social organization for most of our history, which new modern ways of organizing don't require.  

 

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Perhaps some elements of social conservatism have value?  The framework of evolution involves building upon precedent, changing what already exists into something new and better able to adapt to circumstance.  Analysing the mythological elements of Christian religion should lead to the conclusion that the entire meaning of the Jesus story is symbolic, that any claims of supernatural entities are pure myth, whose real original intent was to popularise aspects of secret Gnostic wisdom.  My view is that secret tradition links directly to the rational visions of Greek philosophy, integrated with stories from surrounding cultures whose age alone gives them enduring cultural value, and all understood against the objective universal reality of astronomical observation.  

This is the problem though, Conservatives in longing to retain the past, in turn end up retaining the authority of the past.  Who really gets to decide policy among social conservatives, Christian-Atheists such as yourself, or Evangelicals and Catholics who far outnumber you on the Conservative side and might not have your Enlightened modifications to the theology and ethics.  

 

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Perhaps some people have that heroic individual power, True Scotsman, but shared activity is often essential to reinforce and spread good values and practices.

I seldom see Christian-Atheist churches being planted, anywhere.  Otherwise per Matthew 18 you have to submit to the authority of the elders if you want to be a part of most Christian communities.  This is certainly the troubled position we find ourselves in, in the Capitalist Post-Protestant world, but we have way more information and tools available to us that no one else had.  This is essentially what the Post-Modernists discovered, that there was no common foundation for life and all these language games that we play, and that is appropriate and needed for the kind of fragmented world we now live in.  Whether that is for the better, will remain to be seen, but it is a fact of how the world has changed and I think religion and its foundationlist approach to the world ceases to be flexible enough for all the complex circumstances we now must navigate in the future.  Problems which seem silly to rely on ancient sayings in Canonical tomes to base our decisions on, such as how to handle the new technological realities which will come upon us in the 21st and 22nd Centuries.  

 

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 As such, I believe that reform of Christian worship, ritual and prayer can be extremely helpful in encouraging and assisting people to establish routines and practices that will be of personal and social benefit.  Literalism has so severely traumatised and degraded Christian belief that such a transformation of the nature of faith is a hard ask.  I am calling for a dialogue about how a hypothetical astronomical philosophy could have given rise to the extant facts of Christianity, as a far more plausible account than any attempt to salvage the creaking wreck of Christ historicism with its anomalies, absurdities and moral failings.  And yet, in the spirit of the wheat and tares, it should be possible to distinguish between the valuable and the harmful, with the valuable including social practices that provide psychological comfort and shared learning.

I have a hard time believing that Christian Atheism will become a big thing, especially your particular brand of Platonism, Astronomy and Complex Christian Theology.  Which probably took you FOREVER to come up with.  Why spend so much time on that, when you can spend time on the essential practices and knowledge which are the things which actually gave the benefits of the religion, such as the practice of meditation and its power to change the brain.  Instead of making a Frankenreligion, by transplanting carefully all kinds various belief systems, why not just accept naturalism as a fact and learn how to be comfortable and how to have community with the knowledge that you are mortal and fallibly constructed by evolution and that there are various practices behaviors and mindsets which can be beneficial to desired relationship, professional and personal outcomes.  I can also do Yoga classes or group meditation, and you can essentially hack your schedule in order to insert these practices so that no such heroic individual power is necessary.  Hell, I learned how to implement these practices when I had PTSD and Deep Depression, so clearly no heroic individual power is necessary, it just requires a system where you persistently do it.  Sounds way better to me than resubmitting to the yoke of Christianity.

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On 22/10/2017 at 2:46 PM, Joshpantera said:

How do you propose an atheistic approach to prayer? 

Hi Josh, thanks, great question.  Prayer is a way to articulate your intentions and wishes and hopes in explicit words, openly sharing or formulating what and who is important to you.  We should leave out entirely all ideas of prayers being answered.  That is not the real purpose of prayer, and such magical thinking is primitive and delusional. Expressing some humility before the deep mystery of the universe, and expressing your hopes and dreams in words, is a way to see prayer as a valuable and practical psychological and social activity. 

There is extensive literature on the power of positive thinking and the healing power of faith. A key message for psychology is that your attitude and how you express it is central to your achievements. Sporting methods such as envisioning success are a form of prayer. Prayer is a way to cultivate and reinforce a positive attitude of creative visualisation, even if the language used involves symbolic myths as the object of the prayer. 

It is true that prayer is closely associated with a social conservatism that is anti-rational. So it can be hard to avoid a sense of irony in listening to prayers to an entity that you do not believe in.   The fact is that public prayer is a political act, expressing what the congregation present and the person praying consider to be acceptable ideas about what they want to happen and see as important.  When prayer is meaningless gobbledegook, it illustrates that the community using such language is deeply confused.

On 22/10/2017 at 2:46 PM, Joshpantera said:

When I've attended funerals in recent years (the only times I've set foot churches in the last 25 years) prayer has got to be the most annoying aspects of the visit. People groveling around asking an imaginary being for certain things, is a bit much. Especially knowing that it's nothing more than one person (some preacher, usually an egoic self important figure) standing in front of everyone saying things that he wants everyone else to hear - more so than speaking to a god.  Although the suggestion is that it's aimed up at a supernatural deity in the sky. 

The usual point at a funeral is to offer some comfort to the bereaved and a sense that the ceremony has provided an emotionally fitting farewell that helps ease the mourning and grieving process.  Now I don’t personally think that funerals should include pious platitudes about the person going to heaven, but it is entirely possible for a well-constructed Christian liturgy to express sentiments that a broad secular audience can find acceptable and even uplifting.  Bad religion, promoting magical fantasy, just poisons the well for many who get the impression that all religion is incurably stupid.

On 22/10/2017 at 2:46 PM, Joshpantera said:

In the past, especially concerning christian origins, Gnostic or otherwise, they clearly believed that they were praying to a literal god. So to eliminate that dynamic would be entire new, and very un-christian for all intensive purposes. 

Your claim that Gnostics believed they were praying to a literal God is not as clear as you suggest. My view on Gnosticism is that the Gnostic movement that came into conflict with orthodoxy in the Christian era included a lot of magical diversity that is not necessarily a good indicator of how Gnostic ideas influenced the earlier production of the Gospels. This comes through clearly in reading of Plato, where his ideas have a rational meaning without magical claims, although Plato is routinely interpreted by hostile critics through caricature. It is only “un-Christian” to reject supernatural belief when we see the degraded orthodox literal tradition as the only form of Christianity, without looking beneath that view to find its rational origins.

 

On 22/10/2017 at 2:46 PM, Joshpantera said:

How would it work, then? 

 

And what would make it christian at all? 

A good way to explain how prayer can work is to look at The Lord’s Prayer.  Here is how I read it, using the traditional version.

 

Our Father, which art in heaven,

·         Heaven is the natural universe, the stable framework of physical order that enables life on earth.

·         While a natural vision of Christianity should aim to shift cultural values from patriarchal hierarchy toward a vision of gender equality and respect, there is still value in imagining divinity with both male and female attributes, with the paternal dimension expressed in stable order and the maternal dimension seen in care and nurture, seeing the integration of male and female as a union of sky and earth, order and care, spirit and nature, eternity and time.

Hallowed be thy Name.

·         Humans should respect observation of the natural order of the cosmos as the foundation of systematic understanding, expressing awe and wonder and humility at our complete dependence on the mathematical beauty of the laws of physics that unite earth and heaven in a coherent integrated reality.


Thy Kingdom come. 

·         The prayer for the Kingdom of God to reign on earth means the end of the fallen alienated depravity of human culture, transformed into a state of grace.  The Biblical vision of the kingdom is seen in core images such as the Last Judgement in Matthew 25 where salvation is described solely in terms of respect for the dignity of those who are excluded from the constructed world of human power, and the Tree of Life, which bookends the Bible in the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem as the image of human reconciliation with natural ecology.


Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

·         The vision here is a transformation of the corrupted human world into a state of grace and love, working towards universal peace and justice as the moral basis of human life

·         To say the will of God is now done in heaven is a hermetic idea, reflecting the core Platonic idea ‘as above so below’, meaning that the same laws of physics rule on earth as in heaven, but our deluded views have created an artificial separation that is a path to destruction.

·         Sir Isaac Newton used this hermetic tradition, with its legendary origins in Hermes Trismegistus, as the intellectual basis to discover the law of gravity, overturning the medieval error by proving the same laws apply on earth as in the heavens.  The whole universe is a single shared consistent river of time.

·         Thou art that – tat tvam asi – in the Vedic vision.


Give us this day our daily bread.

·         Our economy should provide the material basis to give people time to reflect on ideas, firstly meeting all simple needs, but then aiming for universal abundance.

·         The dependence of the economy on nature is a theme often ignored, but is central to understanding real value.


And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. 

·         The forgiveness of sin is a complex idea, aiming to dissolve trauma through the reconciling power of love and mutual understanding.

·         However, as Mark says in the baptism story, the Christian idea of forgiveness is conditional upon repentance.  Love can be unconditional, merited simply by existence, but forgiveness requires the ability of the person who has done wrong to be sorry, to understand that what they did was wrong and why it was wrong, and to feel empathy and compassion for the suffering caused by the wrong.

·         The magical literalist tradition that belief in the saving blood of Jesus shed for believers on the cross avails to supply forgiveness for all believers is an insidious and dangerous error.  Although the story of the cross has deep symbolic meaning, its use to claim forgiveness for unrepentant wickedness is part of the general psychosis of literal Christianity.


And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

·         Moral clarity about good action requires both freedom of the will and social reinforcement of understanding of what is good.

·         The world is dominated by evil.  The human trauma of alienation from nature has enabled civilization to cut loose from scientific moorings in reality, drifting toward unleashing of the four horsemen, war, death, famine and plague. 

·         There is high risk that with nine billion people on our planet expected this century, and delusional refusal to engage on the dangers of climate change, a great collapse of the world economy through war and epidemic could lead to death and destruction on a scale bigger than has ever happened before. 

·         The prayer to avoid this looming fate requires that human life should cohere with natural law, beginning with the laws of physics and extending to evidence based understanding of moral needs.


For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.

·         Whose is the real kingdom of the earth?  In fact, at cosmic scale our planet is a tiny piece of flotsam carried around the galaxy by the sun, a situation which has enabled four billion years of life in a stable protected natural cocoon. 

·         To imagine the human kingdom of the earth can defy the laws of physics is a gross delusion.

·         As the Buddha taught, delusion is the primary cause of suffering, but delusion can be overcome through enlightenment.

·         The best analysis of the conventional concept of glory that I have seen is by Lewis Carroll in Through The Looking Glass, where Humpty Dumpty tells Alice that glory means whatever he wants it to, and defines glory as ‘a nice knock-down argument’ that shows who is to be master.  But if we want this metaphysical word to have scientific meaning, the traditional use of glory to mean the power of the church to define language and assert its cultural mastery should be radically deconstructed.

On 22/10/2017 at 2:46 PM, Joshpantera said:

And further more, why is there any pressing need to maintain prayer at all? 

Prayer focuses our intent on our hopes, concerns, goals and relationships, enabling conscious shared expression of care as the meaning of being.  Any mythological language used in prayer should be understood as symbolic, not as invoking divine intervention but as expressing respect for the shared conventional language, while seeing its meaning as entirely natural.

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On 10/23/2017 at 7:18 AM, Robert_Tulip said:

The fact is that public prayer is a political act, expressing what the congregation present and the person praying consider to be acceptable ideas about what they want to happen and see as important.  When prayer is meaningless gobbledegook, it illustrates that the community using such language is deeply confused.

 

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. 

 

But your take on reformulating the Lord's Prayer is quite unique and innovative, I must say. I keep saying this, but I can't imagine any other way that people could go with all of this into the future. It seems that christianity is either destined to die off completely or radically change away from the usual orthodox readings which are so blatantly errant. I see people trying to adapt to all of the new information that keeps sweeping through society. This is one such way of adapting to the changing landscape. 

 

On 10/23/2017 at 7:18 AM, Robert_Tulip said:

Prayer focuses our intent on our hopes, concerns, goals and relationships, enabling conscious shared expression of care as the meaning of being.  Any mythological language used in prayer should be understood as symbolic, not as invoking divine intervention but as expressing respect for the shared conventional language, while seeing its meaning as entirely natural.

 

Again, that's one hell of an adaptation. 

 

And certainly a new an unique perspective to anything we've seen here before at ex-C. 

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On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

answers to question #1 go in the direction Earl Doherty and Richard Carriers work and how things like the Ascension of Isaiah reveal these celestial oriented Gnostic roots, and how that applies to early christian beliefs specifically. There's good back ground info in all of that.

Where I think Acharya’s analysis was superior to that of both Doherty and Carrier is in the intertwined topic of mythology, symbolism and cosmology.  Carrier uses the overly clunky language of “Jesus came down from outer space” in his discussion of the cosmology in the Ascension of Isaiah.  That is just wrong, because it assumes the ancients imagined the cosmic Jesus as a three dimensional entity able to move through space.  However, if we consider how the stars were used in Greek myth, we see that constellations were imagined as symbolising figures such as Hercules, Andromeda, Perseus, etc.  But when the story says Andromeda was placed in the sky, it does not at all mean that the constellation Andromeda contains an entity, a 3D woman.  No, the figure is imagined in the stars as imprinted on the firmament, which provides a memory jogger.  We need to keep that Greek model in mind in analysing the language of cosmic descent and ascent in Bible stories.  The presence of Jesus in the stars is the position of the sun against the equinox.  Symbolic allegory is central to religious imagination.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

Also their work on applying this line of thinking to the authentic Pauline Epistles and how those reflect Gnostic thought, Paul being the first of the NT writings.

I recall Carrier and Doherty discussing Paul’s mention of the third heaven, but you might need to remind me of other cosmic references they make outside the Ascension of Isaiah. My experience is that secular atheists find astrotheology repugnant, by and large, and have a sense of disdain towards mythology.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

And how the NT writers were influenced by Philo of Alexandria with his "logos" concepts which are Platonic in orientation and which also find their way right into the introduction of John, for instance - claiming that Jesus is the "logos."

Yes, Philo is like a ‘transition fossil’, a missing link.  His Logos analysis marks a key stage in the evolution of Greek philosophy into Christian religion.  If Plato is analogous to the dinosaur ancestors of birds, Philo is the archaeopteryx and Jesus is the eagle.

 

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

Those are just a few areas in which the Platonic oriented Gnostic connections to the NT writing can be outlined.

To which we could add, McDonald’s proof of how Mark used Homer as a template, the role of secret mystery societies, geometry, Plato’s core ideas of love, the good, just, true and beauty, and more controversially, astrology.  Plato’s Republic was part of the Nag Hammadi cache, illustrating his centrality to Gnostic Christianity, and supporting my hypothesis of Jesus Christ as Noble Lie.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

Not to mention, of course, the fact that the epistles don't appear into history until after the Gnostic Marcion claims to have found them laying around in Antioch and makes them known, and then adds his own Gospel to the collection during the early 2nd century. The gospels then begin appearing into the historical record behind all of the above becoming spoken of and acknowledged in the mid to late 2nd century. The writings all anonymous and their true origins completely unknown. 

Yes, this all illustrates the extreme difficulty of formulating a plausible story of how Christianity evolved, given that the dominant church story is flagrantly untrue, self-serving, fictional and censored.  I would just like if the idea that Jesus “may” not have existed could be accepted by theologians as a thought experiment, a gedank to see if the evidence we have is compatible with that hypothesis, even if it is seen as outlandish and absurd by people who cannot cut the apron strings.  Instead of such honest research we instead get this sullen attitude known as totschweigen, a wall of silence no-platform, non-person invisibility of all who question the precious dogma of the literal existence of Jesus.  And that is despite the obvious argument that Christianity would become more credible if it engaged in honest dialogue with critics.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

Plato > Gnosticism > Marcion > Pauline Epistles appear into the historical record > Gospels appear into the historical record > Orthodoxy eventually takes control of the religious writings and canonizes what they prefer to canonize > The world of today > Robert's "Final Reformation."  

You are too kind to put me up with Plato in this depiction of world cultural evolution.  I prefer to say just that the world needs an open honest dialogue about the deep meaning of Christianity, trying to overcome the intense trauma associated with the triumph of orthodoxy.  The process is akin to social psychotherapy, an effort to uncover what has really happened in order to move towards a liberating redemption.  The truth will set you free.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

I was thinking on this today at work. One name for Robert's idea could be: The Final Reformed Church of Christ. 

The world is not at a final point.  I am writing a scientific paper on the orbital framework for cultural evolution that addresses this problem of end times thinking.  My key point is that the 2148 year-long Age of Pisces provides the main actual terrestrial structure of time, and the Age of Pisces is divided into twelve houses, each 179 years long, based on the overall temporal structure of the solar system encapsulated in the wave function of the solar system centre of mass. This is an argument of pure empirical astronomy, with no astrology.  On this empirical frame, we are now reaching the end of the eleventh house of the Age of Pisces.  The twelfth house starting in the 2020s is a period of transition over the next two centuries to achieve a scientific assessment of messianic thought in a way able to gain broad acceptance. It will be a slow process. I do think that the entire framework of messianic energy in religion has been so difficult and dangerous to engage with that it is simply bracketed out, but a scientific analysis of the nature of messianic change has to be central to any new religious identity.  This is where I find the old idea of the Second Coming so important, as a way of building on precedent, seeing that Jesus came first in imagination as avatar of the Age of Pisces in order to arrive in power as avatar of the Age of Aquarius.

On 19/10/2017 at 12:27 PM, Joshpantera said:

This would represent the final place that any one could possibly take christianity without losing christianity altogether. Reforming it to acknowledge its uncertain roots, background in mystical language and belief, usage of allegorical language, and meaning in philosophical suggestions about the relationship between eternity and time, the finite and the infinite. There's really no other place to go with it once stripping it down bare to these essential aspects that don't relay on literal interpretation, historicity, or any of the things which completely unravel and fall apart for christians. 

Now while I agree with the sentiment, that suggestion of finality is rather like my opinion in 1995 that there would be nowhere to go for computing better than Windows 3.1 and Intel 486.  I had not heard of the internet at that time.  I prefer that we not talk about a final place for Christianity, since we can hardly imagine how the root of Jesse will continue to evolve as the true vine in the indefinite future.  But the immediate apocalyptic problem is global warming, which could suddenly send humans extinct.  If we can cross that hurdle then Christianity can become central to a peaceful abundant global civilization.

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11 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

Where I think Acharya’s analysis was superior to that of both Doherty and Carrier is in the intertwined topic of mythology, symbolism and cosmology.  Carrier uses the overly clunky language of “Jesus came down from outer space” in his discussion of the cosmology in the Ascension of Isaiah.  That is just wrong, because it assumes the ancients imagined the cosmic Jesus as a three dimensional entity able to move through space.  However, if we consider how the stars were used in Greek myth, we see that constellations were imagined as symbolising figures such as Hercules, Andromeda, Perseus, etc.  But when the story says Andromeda was placed in the sky, it does not at all mean that the constellation Andromeda contains an entity, a 3D woman.  No, the figure is imagined in the stars as imprinted on the firmament, which provides a memory jogger.  We need to keep that Greek model in mind in analysing the language of cosmic descent and ascent in Bible stories.  The presence of Jesus in the stars is the position of the sun against the equinox.  Symbolic allegory is central to religious imagination.

 

I find that entirely agreeable. 

 

11 hours ago, Robert_Tulip said:

You are too kind to put me up with Plato in this depiction of world cultural evolution.  I prefer to say just that the world needs an open honest dialogue about the deep meaning of Christianity, trying to overcome the intense trauma associated with the triumph of orthodoxy.  The process is akin to social psychotherapy, an effort to uncover what has really happened in order to move towards a liberating redemption.  The truth will set you free.

 

I'm just picturing the scenario. This would be the outcome of those same Platonic ideas moving through time, but with some new edition. Such as the atheism.

 

I imagine this as similar to Buddhism, following Campbell's analysis. The gods of Hinduism were viewed by some as real, but to the knowledgeable as metaphor and allegory. The historical setting, understood as a surface story line symbolic of depth lying below it. And atheistic outcroppings of Buddhism arose from more of this conscious analysis of the old gods of pantheistic Hinduism. And we know how similar the ideas of the Buddha's and Christ are, as metaphorical of the mystery of existence in Campbell's terms. In that way they represent time and the eternal principle, a relationship between the two, who are one. Platonic John, seemed very concerned with this mystical issue. 

 

It seems like a logical outcome to find christian's at some point reaching towards Buddhism as way of survival and maintaining relevance. The orthodox reading doesn't have it very good at all anymore. It trying to make final stands, as I see it. With so many claims of Israel as fulfillment of prophecy, the literalist's clocks will start running out in blatant ways when Jesus doesn't literally appear up in the sky, following the creation of modern Israel. People are bound to stop supporting those ideas more and more as they continuously fail. I really think orthodox christianity can expect nothing but decline, steadily, going forward. 

 

I'd expect the only way to gain numbers back is by reaching for the liberal life float through time, in all of the little fundie sects. What else but smothering out could we expect? 

 

Some liberal conception of christianity seems like the only real avenue for survival, IMO.

 

Christianity without Jesus has got to be the final way one could possibly take it. 

 

Perhaps a final reformation in that way. 

 

 

 

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On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

This seems to fail to learn the most important lesson that we have learned about culture, that they emerge, entirely out of a framework of human beings and the civilizations that existed at the time.  Which means, they are fictions, and not just mythologies.  None of it is real

You seem to be asserting here, in your statement “none of it is real” that Christianity has no rational scientific ethical content.  I understand that people can see the world that way, but I disagree.  Jesus Christ is an allegory for the sun.  That is a factual statement, not a fiction.  Anthropomorphising the sun in the person of Jesus reflected the real function of the sun as the source of light and life.  That process has historically been concealed by the fictional claim that the Gospel account is factual.  If we read the Gospels as purely symbolic and imaginary, we are on a better path to finding what is real in Christianity.  Sorting fact and fiction in religion is far harder than making the simplistic false claim that religion is all fiction! 

 

On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

for someone in the 21st Century you have to tread carefully when you have this heritage of fiction-making.  

Yes, that supports the point I am making in this thread, that the historical Jesus is pure fiction, pure imaginative construction.  However, the entire point of the construction was logical, to provide a logical explanation of how time connects to eternity, within a popularised framework of Platonic idealism.  Therefore, there is a reasonable hypothesis that behind the myth stands an actual reality of time.   And when we look to the reality of terrestrial time, explained by astronomy, we find a precise fit with Christology.

On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

It seems the best way forward isn't just to adjust previous fictions, but to create new ones which are not dependent on the authority of traditional elements of society.  

Your argument conflicts with evolutionary processes in culture, the Darwinian process of descent with modification through cumulative adaptation.  Culture is nested in nature, as part of life, so the evolutionary heuristic suggests that building upon precedent is a more realistic approach than creating entirely new ideas as you suggest. The reason this is important with Christianity is that if my argument is correct, reforming Christianity to make it compatible with reason will uncover a concealed meaning that is inherent within Christian origins, an original meaning that was suppressed, forgotten, denied and lost over the millennia of fictional rule.  Tradition should be engaged respectfully, even if that means explaining its mistakes and how traditional practices need reform.

On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

The Gospel of John is much later than the earlier gospels, which certainly had the main narrative about how Jesus became King, with each demonstrating Jesus' true messianic nature in their distinct ways. 

“Demonstrating” is a scientific term.  The correct verb for the Gospels is “asserting”.

On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

I also don't think that "John's" use of the term Logos implies that the rest of the theology is based on Platonic thought

I completely agree.  Christianity emerged from a secret mystery society culture which was suffused with cross-cultural respect, bringing important elements from Greece, including the koine language and Platonic ideas, but also drawing on mythology and cosmology and prophecy from Egypt, Israel, Syria, Babylon and India. 

 tbc

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On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

this author like Paul was surely aware of Platonic and Hellenistic thought, which had entered Second Temple Judaism through the Alexandrian Jews and their translation of the Septuagint (as well as the Hellenistic occupation of Palestine for centuries).

Yes, most of the New Testament is suffused with the common era idea of the syncretism of Greek and Jewish traditions.  I am suggesting that such syncretism was actually much more dominant than appears, and that a Greek mystery philosophy based on Platonic idealism had a central role in constructing the Christ story on the model of Plato’s vision of the philosopher king.

On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

There are also prophecies given in these earlier gospels about the coming of Christ to fully setup his heavenly kingdom, but that shifted with later texts like the gospel of John to be more in the future age. 

The common view that the synoptics assumed a swift Parousia is not so simple.  Matt 24:14 says that the Gospel will be preached to the whole inhabited earth before the end of the age, indicating a far future Parousia.  That coheres with the cosmology that appears to place the second coming at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, seen in the parable of the man with the water jug in the upper room allegory in Luke 22.  These statements contradict Matt 16:28, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”.  Both traditions, the orthodox idea of a long delayed Parousia, and the idea of immediate transformation, are present in the synoptics.  My view is that the Aquarian vision is the authentic Gnostic Platonic original idea, while the immediate Parousia claim was probably added later for political reasons.

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On 23/10/2017 at 8:35 AM, TrueScotsman said:

It isn't just the introduction of Platonism that shifted the theology of John and some of the later writings of the New Testament, it was the reinterpretation of critical prophecies as Christianity has and will always be a sort of apocalyptic cult that believes the end of the world is nigh. 

Firstly, it is clear the synoptics are suffused with Platonic thinking, seen in Mark’s whole Noble Lie framework adopted from Plato’s Republic, and how Mark used Homer as a model. The argument that Platonism only entered Christianity after the Synoptics is a gross error founded in traditional Christian dogma.

 And secondly, the Bible makes no mention of the ‘end of the world’.  That phrase is a KJV mistranslation of ‘end of the age’.  The post plausible and coherent interpretation of the Biblical concept of the age is the stellar Aeon of Pisces, which will end with the shift of the equinox point into Aquarius.

  I appreciate it is hard to see that the Gospel writers thought that way when we have had traditional nonsense fed to us, but I am arguing for a paradigm shift that sees the Gospel writers as far smarter and more informed than the tradition imagines.  Their priestcraft was grounded in visual astronomy, comparative mythology and Platonic philosophy.

 End of the world thinking is a degraded corruption of the original vision of a transition between Aeons, and how this transition is expected to produce a paradigm shift, like the shift from the Age of Aries to the Age of Pisces that occurred at the dawn of the common era with the emergence of the Roman Empire and the unifying message of Christianity.

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On 11/9/2017 at 9:30 PM, Robert_Tulip said:

The common view that the synoptics assumed a swift Parousia is not so simple.  Matt 24:14 says that the Gospel will be preached to the whole inhabited earth before the end of the age, indicating a far future Parousia.  That coheres with the cosmology that appears to place the second coming at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, seen in the parable of the man with the water jug in the upper room allegory in Luke 22.  These statements contradict Matt 16:28, “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”.  Both traditions, the orthodox idea of a long delayed Parousia, and the idea of immediate transformation, are present in the synoptics.  My view is that the Aquarian vision is the authentic Gnostic Platonic original idea, while the immediate Parousia claim was probably added later for political reasons

 

I'm glad you pointed this out, because that's worthy of making note of. 

 

When I read that I immediately remembered discussions I've quote Campbell in, referring to precession and the old numeric based myths that point to cycles of time and where they can be found in the bible, along side of linear time thinking. Both are present in the texts. But the cyclical is concealed in the Biblical tradition. Because the cyclical time references are concealed in the OT, then it stems to wonder if indeed the Gnostic ideas were original, were based at least in part on understanding where they are concealed in the OT (Jewish Scriptures), and how they compare and contrast with the pagan mystery school teachings. 

 

Out side of that understanding of cyclical time, would come the linear references thrown in around it. Because ultimately, all the linear referencing in the bible is merely taking a short look, exactly 1/3 of the entire Great Year cycle, and treating that 1/3 as though it were a linear time line from a fixed beginning to a fixed end. Time, times and half a time perfectly covers the span of 4 out of 12 world ages - Taurus (world age), Aries, Pisces (world ages), and Aquarius (half a world age). Both references are repeated in Revelation as we know. 1/3 this, 1/3 that, etc. etc.

 

Couple that with what Robert Buvual has found in Egypt about the Giza Necropolis oriented to Zep Tepi (the first time) the former age of Leo-Aquarius, and how it marks out half the precession cycle from one extreme to the other, and it would appear that a very old astronomical based mystery school tradition was on the mind of at least some of the NT writers. The age of Aquarius, is the opposite of Zep Tepi, and it marks instead the "last time." And it's the vernal age of Aquarius - Leo that we're currently heading into. This seems laid out in Revelation, by way of the tradition of outlining the lower 1/3 of the great year, ending with the age of Aquarius - Leo. All the clues to orient someone to the cyclical time models are there in Revelation. But the linear readings obscure that. 

 

Platonic thought was influenced by Egypt, of course, so this line of astronomical mysteries can be seen as coming from Egypt, to Greece, and then down to the beginning of the common era through Philo of Alexandria and other Jews who were 'learned and concerned' with Platonic thought and the ancient solar mysteries.

 

Perhaps blending Judaism with the pagan mysteries because they knew where the mystery school content existed within the Jewish scriptures, and that it wasn't isolated simply to the pagan mysteries alone. Whether they understood well that Judaism arose from polytheism as of around the beginning of the common era time frame, doesn't seem so clear. It had been glossed over by monotheism for a long time by then. But perhaps they even understood that too. Possibly lending answers to why they were so willing to mix Judaism with the pagan mysteries, and apparently had no problem doing so. 

 

 

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Guy, just wanting your opinion on something. I might be on to something or I could be off beam.

 

Joel 2:31 says 31"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come."

 

Now as I've been studying astrotheology I understand a great day is when the constellations have shifted 1 degree in the sky and the houses shift - so it might go from the sign of Aquarius to Pisces and the ancients would call this a "great day".

 

Given the context of astrological signs in Joel do you think the zodiac great day is what is being spoken about, or am I off keel?

 

PS sorry I know this doesn't tie in directly with Jesus, but early Christians were very keen on Joel 2, - Peter quotes it on the day of Pentecost in Acts 1 or 2

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18 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

Guy, just wanting your opinion on something. I might be on to something or I could be off beam.

 

Joel 2:31 says 31"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come."

 

Now as I've been studying astrotheology I understand a great day is when the constellations have shifted 1 degree in the sky and the houses shift - so it might go from the sign of Aquarius to Pisces and the ancients would call this a "great day".

 

Given the context of astrological signs in Joel do you think the zodiac great day is what is being spoken about, or am I off keel?

 

PS sorry I know this doesn't tie in directly with Jesus, but early Christians were very keen on Joel 2, - Peter quotes it on the day of Pentecost in Acts 1 or 2

Thanks for these questions Logical Fallacy.

The reference in Joel is to total eclipses of the sun and moon.  For the ancient astronomer-priests, total lunar eclipses, which are known as Blood Moons because they turn the moon red as in the recent tetrad, were the primary method to calculate the precession of the equinoxes, which then defined the 'day of the Lord'. 

The Greek astronomer Hipparchus probably used the Blood Moon of 21 March 135 BC to calculate the speed of precession using Babylonian star records of the position of the equinox by noting the position of Spica, the 'wheat ear' star in Virgo.  And then, the Blood Moon at Passover in Jerusalem on 23 March 5 BC appears to be the best explanation of the text at Rev 12, the ‘moon at the foot of the woman’.  It vividly illustrated how the heavens had shifted into a new age (of loaves and fishes = Virgo and Pisces) from the Mosaic tradition mentioned by Philo whereby the Passover Moon was always in Libra.

I don’t think your “great day” interpretation is quite correct.  The “Great Year” or “Platonic Year” is the time for the eternal return of the same, the period of 25771 years (traditional estimate 25920 years) for the equinoxes and solstices to travel right around the zodiac stars.  By that measure, a ‘great day’ is the period (71.7 years) that it takes for one degree of precession.  A zodiac age is thirty of these ‘great days’, or 2148 years (traditionally 2160). 

So I don’t think Joel meant one degree of precession but rather thirty degrees, on the basis that he was alluding to the dawn of the Age of Aquarius as the expected time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, as Irenaeus thought, in line with the conventional 7000 year Christian theory of time.  There are many fundamentalist tracts that explain this YECist idea, which is actually esoteric allegory for scientific observation of precession by ancient astronomer priests who developed the Platonic Gnostic myth of the incarnation of Christ in the time of Pilate.

The relevant text from Irenaeus, citing the day/millennium code from 2 Peter and Psalm 90, is “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works." This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year...

For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded...and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year...Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception.

(Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 28:2-3; 29:2)

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